Naomi pleads with the residents of Bethlehem to call her Mara, meaning 'bitter.' Can't you just hear it? 'Just call me Ms. Bitter!' Sounds a little rough doesn't it? And somewhere, covered in the web of insecurities and unmet expectations over our hearts, I believe we may have whispered the same plea for a name-change. Oh sure, we may not have sent all of our friends an email asking for them to please change their address books to match our new name, but the cry of self-pity could be there nonetheless.
Naomi's heart touches a tender area of my own. I've not lost much in comparison to countless others, but I know what it's like to have joined in the suffering. My beloved Dad passed away when I was 20, our material possessions were depleted, and even now, someone I love dearly is facing extended jail charges. And my heart aches. It aches for the loss, while it simultaneously swells with anticipation because I know that I have the opportunity to know my Lord more.
Naomi continues, saying, "I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?" (Sigh ... ). Our finite minds distort our vision. Our limited concepts of the Holy One paralyze us.
Have we not all in some manner, at some point, been a Naomi? We stay fixated on our specific 'loss' so long that we are blind to the 'gain' offered in Christ. We mope, pout, and keep our arms crossed at the foot of the cross in outright anger at the One who has seemingly "brought us back empty" and "afflicted."
Please hear me. There is a season, even a long one sometimes, where you are meant to count your losses. You cannot wholly discover your 'gain' until you face, embrace, and have a girlie mourning fit and hiatus over what is 'not' anymore. There is nothing healthier than crying out to your Father at times.
But, when you refuse to go through the process of counting your loss, He cannot direct your wounded heart to the Truth of Himself. If all we gained in our loss was more of Christ, I promise you sister, He would be enough (Ps. 63:5)
Who do you say that you are? Maybe a more eye opening question is the following: who do you desire others to acknowledge you to be out of self-pity, self-protection, self-importance, self-loathing and more? Can I be brutally honest with some of the name games I think we women play?
- Do not call me (insert name), call me afflicted one. (Girls, you need to know that if you sit in the sympathy pit with someone past the God-appointed time, you could be enabling them to stay there and hindering them from 'taking up their mat to walk' again!)
- Do not call me (insert name), call me not skinny. (Because when we finally get that boyfriend, husband, or friend to agree to our thoughts that we aren't as 'thin' as we may desire to be, we can then lash out in anger over our physical insecurities. All the while the LORD has been begging you to open your eyes to the most beautiful creation He has ever made - you. Psalm 139).
- Do not call me (insert name), call me unworthy or unable. (Once we've believed the lies that we aren't good enough, we accept the accusations of the enemy. Thus, the next time we fall into that sin again, we hear the enemy say 'I told you so,' and we nod shamefully, in agreement. Then, we permit ourselves to live in the vicious cycle of defeating strongholds, excusing ourselves from repentance or the seeking of victory, because remember, we are unworthy to even try to be different, or considered able to be anything but what we are in our flesh.)
- Do not call me accepted, call me rejected. (He has made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6).
- Do not call me called of God, call me useless. (But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9).
God shouts His names of love for you throughout the entirety of the Old Testament and the New. He displays it from the beginning of creation with a 'very good' all the way to His merciful redemption on the cross. You are who you are because of Him. To deny who you are, is to deny who He is. Next time you have a Naomi occasion, take your validly wounded heart to your Great Physician. And ask Him who you are. I suspect if you ask Him to please not call you 'such and such,' He will stoop down, impress His nail-scarred hand upon your bleeding heart, and gently remind you of your identity - His beloved, and the apple of His eye.
Count your losses. Weep. Cry. Give heed to the brokenness. But do not let your circumstances define who you are. Your El Shaddai calls you by a name rooted in His unconditional love for you. You bear the Name above every name - that of Christ - and nothing could be more wonderful...
Do not call me unclean, He calls me holy.
Do not call me not good enough, He calls me more than able.
Do not call me victim, He calls me victorious.
And do not call me unlovely, He calls me beautiful.
PS - Danny, Carole's sweet dog, refused to leave me alone during my Bible study time. He kept plopping on top of it while I was trying to read. Apparently, He has a heart for the Word. I mean really; He was fighting to get Himself on top of those pages. I finally got up and decided to capture the moment!